As the sort-of Olympics kick off today, here's a few things Blues fans ought to keep a look out for during the tournament:
Berglund's offensive output with Sweden
The Blues have struggled with their lukewarm offense, and the lack of scoring support for Tarasenko has been downright criminal. They need bigger point production from their forwards, and we've been looking at you for a while, Iceberg. Patrick Berglund's callup after the injuries to Steen and Rakell wasn't surprising. He's performed well for Sweden in international play in the past, and they could do a hell of a lot worse.
He'll likely get forth-line minutes on this squad, but this isn't necessarily bad. His risk for injury might marginally decrease with fewer minutes, and if he manages to create some offense, that momentum could carry into the regular season.
If you missed out on the exhibition OT thriller between Russia and Canada this week, holy shit, shame on you! It was a 3-on-3 OT death match between some of the most skilled players on the face of the planet.
How Tarasenko is being utilized by Team Russia should be turning some heads around the league. In that overtime period, Tarasenko skated with Panarin and Orlov. There's flash, finesse, and speed all smashed together in this line, and maybe the Blues will look to emulate this model if Vlad's line starts lighting it up.
His never-ending soap opera drama set momentarily aside, the Blues are simply not as deep at forward as they were a year ago, and if they are forced to endure another lengthy rash of injuries, they could be in serious trouble without him.
Say whatever you want about Sobe. He's pouty. He's another unremarkable third-line cog that Hitchcock can't seem to get enough of. He's totally unworthy of the attention he's been getting. Yes, yes, and yes. It's all true, but in 2014, he was a +14, and notched 33 points over 61 games. If he's anywhere near that form, he'll make the team out of camp without much trouble and he'll provide a nice cushion down the middle of the lineup.
Sobotka's been a healthy scratch through the exhibition schedule, except for a game where he had an injury scare with his clavicle. He'll probably end up being used like Berglund - a forth line guy who they're hoping could chip in with some offense here and there. If Vlad 2.0 looks good throughout the tournament, and he actually lands in Lambert without another dose of drama, we should all feel better about the depth at forward, even if we hate the way he fucked off to Russia over a small dispute over money.
Team North America is an absolute blast to watch. They're speedy little fuckers who score in bunches. The style of play Team North America has displayed during their exhibition games might end up being pretty similar to the new regime being implemented in St.Louis. You've got more speed and less size up front with Fabbri, Schwartz, and Perron. Generating neutral zone turnovers and solidifying puck movement will become crucially important going forward.
Doug Armstrong has doubled down on a risky strategy, and placed a whole hell of a lot of pressure on the trio of Fabbri, Parayko, and Edmundson. A sophomore slump could be disastrous. So how will Parayko adapt? Can he keep up with the likes of Connor McSavior, Johnny Hockey, and RNH? Will he be able to consistently feed outlet passes to these speeding banshees? Can he establish a role for himself on the powerplay with his booming shot?
Bouwmeester: warm body or catalyst?
JayBouw is becoming the new David Backes. He's a polarizing figure and everyone seems to have hawt takes about him. Some of the fanbase hates the guy and his unmovable contract. I get where everyone's coming from, but I'm fairly ambivalent towards the blueliner. He's durable, rarely missed games on account of injuries, and he's a fantastic skater who won't cost you a ton of games with boneheaded turnovers.
Team Canada is drowning in skilled, puck moving defenseman, however, so it's safe to assume Bouwmeester's ice time will be limited. That said, can he elevate his game and put some of our fears to rest? Arguably, he'll be drawing easier matchups in this tournament that he would be during the regular season, and he's already shown a glimmer of offensive output in the exhibition games, so the stage seems to be set.